The National Hockey League revealed their 2009-2010 schedule on Wednesday and made the official announcement that the Bridgestone Winter Classic will be held at the historic 97 year old Fenway Park on New Years Day 2010 when the Philadelphia Flyers visit Boston to play the Bruins at 12 noon.
The Winter Classic announcement setting was somewhat surreal with Commissioner Gary Bettman and other participants being seated on a podium built over the Red Sox dugout with dasher boards and glass at the rear of the stage.
Gary Bettman described the game as “Two great teams with the green monster as the backdrop,” referring to the famous outfield wall at the oldest Major League Baseball stadium still in use.
Bettman also announced that the NHL agreement with NBC had been extended for an additional two years with the first game of the new pact being the 2010 Winter Classic.
There was a simulated hockey rink layout on the field behind the stage. A crisp blue sky and deep green grass added summer color to the Winter Classic in the made for video announcement that was carried on the NHL Network.
The NHL season will open on October 1 and end on April 11, 2010 with a break for 14 days from February 15 to 28 due to the 2010 Winter Olympic Games that are being played in Vancouver where the teams will mostly consist of NHL players.
The 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs will begin on Wednesday, April 14 and continue for approximately two months..
Two sets of games will be played in Europe on October 2nd and 3rd with Chicago and Florida meeting in Helsinki and Detroit and St. Louis playing in Stockholm.
The Nashville Predators (full schedule here) will open the season in Dallas with a game against the Stars on Saturday, October 3. Their next game will be the home opener on Thursday, October 8 against the Colorado Avalanche at 7 p.m. at the Sommet Center. Single game tickets will be available in September.
The Predators will play six games with each divisional opponent and four games each with the remaining conference teams. They will play one game against each of the Eastern conference teams with the exception of New Jersey, Atlanta and Florida with whom they will play home and away games.
Notable Predator home games include the Detroit Red Wings visiting Nashville on November 23, December 12, and March 27 and the home finale against St Louis on April 10, 2010.
Barry Trotz offers his comments on the schedule in an interview at Predators.com
The Predator’s training camp opens on Saturday, September 12 with a slate of eight preseason games, kicking off with a pair of rookie games in Atlanta on September 14 and 15. Preseason home dates will be September 17 (Atlanta), September 19 (Columbus) and September 26 (Carolina).
For Predator fans needing a Hockey fix, the schedule release gives a glimmer of hope that a return to the ice is less than two months away.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass and The Columbia Daily Herald